Gov. Rick Scott on Monday did not shed any new light on how his personal wealth skyrocketed last year.
At the conclusion of a U.S. Senate campaign event at a business in St. Pete, most of the questions were about the spike in Scott’s net worth.
“I put all my assets in a blind trust. So I don’t know how they invested the dollars,” Scott told reporters in St. Petersburg.
It was Scott’s first public comment on the issue since the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau reported on a windfall of up to $550 million from a single transaction, the sale of a Michigan plastics company.
“I might have been the only person that did that, and I did that because I don’t want to have any conflicts,” Scott said.
A reporter asked Scott if he’s “a bit out of touch” when his own bottom line grew by an estimated $82 million in a single year.
His reply: “Let’s look at my background. I never knew my dad. I lived in public housing growing up. I had a wonderful mom who worked hard to make sure I could prosper. She said, ‘I want you to do well in school, I want you to be an Eagle Scout.’ She made sure I went to church a lot, and she told me I had to get out of the house to make any money.”
Scott also noted that as governor he has never taken a salary and that he sold two state planes after taking office. “I paid my own way to fly around the state,” Scott said. Comparing himself to his Democratic opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, Scott said: “He votes to shut down government and continues to take a salary.”
Scott’s blind trust will be back before a state court Tuesday. A panel of appellate judges in Tallahassee will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit by a lawyer and Democratic fundraiser, Don Hinkle, who has said Scott’s reliance on a blind trust violates Florida’s financial-disclosure law for candidates and elected officials.
Scott spoke to reporters at Dairy-Mix, a small St. Petersburg business that makes soft-serve ice cream sold at local McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Dairy Queen franchises, according to owner Ed Coryn.
At the company, Scott accepted the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a Republican-leaning trade association that has 9,400 members in Florida. The group’s Tallahassee lobbyist, Bill Herrle, was in the crowd of about 50 people, as was the organization’s CEO, Juanita Duggan.